59 Comments

  1. Karin
    June 3, 2017 @ 1:35 pm

    Haha, the wine story is priceless! I also learned Spanish in Colombia, I was very basic when I went there but it went fast since I´ve been already speaking French and taking a few classes before going! Immersion is the best to learn quickly – well, if you actually want to learn, that is 😉 Some people just don´t care, but not speaking the local language always makes me so embarrassed!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 3, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment, Karin! I’m glad you appreciated the wine story. Haha! Which city did you learn Spanish? But I totally agree, I feel so much better when I can communicate in the local language.

      Reply

  2. How Not To Travel Like A Basic Bitch
    June 3, 2017 @ 11:23 pm

    Omgosh this was soooooo funny haha. No, I totally agree with your 5 points. You’re going to look stupid at some point but guess what, you’re putting in the work that most Americans won’t so GO YOU. Just to add to one of your points, taking a lover who speaks that language is always pretty dynamite knock out for me haha. It’s like having a private tutor all the time!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 4, 2017 @ 8:46 am

      Hahaha! I am so glad you liked it and I love your comment! Thank you for your very practical addition. I can’t believe I missed that one!

      Reply

  3. Cynthia
    June 4, 2017 @ 12:59 am

    My goal this year is to learn a 2nd language! I love your sense of humor – and you’re right, when you’re just learning something you are going to be embarrassed, but isn’t that better than never learning something at all?! Your post was great inspiration, thank you!!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 4, 2017 @ 8:47 am

      That’s awesome, Cynthia. I hope you go embarrass the hell out of yourself this year!

      Reply

  4. Jac
    June 4, 2017 @ 2:10 am

    Heh I took Spanish lessons in Panama for 3 weeks and I completely feel you about being good enough to pick up keywords but sometimes completely misunderstanding the entire sentence. And yeah I actually listened to Reggaeton to try and pick up more words, poquito poquito, suave suavecito~ 😛

    Love Colombia! Medellin was one of my favourite places there 🙂

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 4, 2017 @ 8:48 am

      When you quote Despacito in my comments section you are an absolute winner in my book! Learning a language is so hard! I’m glad you loved Medellin as much as I did

      Reply

  5. Brit Hemming
    June 4, 2017 @ 3:22 am

    Great post! I love the way you write! It was so witty, I was LOLing all the way through this! I plan to go to Argentina this year and learn some Spanish too 🙂

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 4, 2017 @ 8:49 am

      LOLing all the way through is the highest compliment! Thanks, Brit! Good luck in Argentina!

      Reply

  6. Adventurous Kate
    June 5, 2017 @ 10:06 am

    Ha, I love your self-deprecating stories! Good for you for really throwing yourself out there and making a huge effort to learn. Medellin is a great city, too. I wasn’t the biggest fan of all time, but I understand how some travelers get stuck there!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 5, 2017 @ 10:29 am

      Haha, thank you Kate! Part of the reason I personally loved Medellin because I was able to slow down and stay put which I hadn’t done in such a long time!

      Reply

  7. JoAnnah
    June 5, 2017 @ 11:14 am

    Love your post! And yes I agree, hand signals are universal! They’ve helped me so much. The cross legs for the bathroom never thought of that and is quite funny lol. I do like your tips on how to learn a new language in a foreign country. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 5, 2017 @ 2:57 pm

      Of course and thanks for reading!!

      Reply

  8. Gokul Raj
    June 6, 2017 @ 12:44 am

    I am learning Spanish online but must admit that talking to a local is the best way to learn any language. Internet has its limitations.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 6, 2017 @ 10:53 am

      Definitely, I am back home now and I find it increasingly difficult to maintain the level I was at abroad!

      Reply

  9. Carmen Baguio
    June 6, 2017 @ 10:04 am

    I’ve been trying to learn Spanish off and on for a couple of years. I need to put practice into my daily routine or I’ll never progress!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 6, 2017 @ 10:53 am

      Exactly, yet it is so easy to push off for another day!

      Reply

  10. Renee Hahnel
    June 6, 2017 @ 11:18 am

    These are great tips Cali! I have wanted to learn Spanish for SO long and think I need to just bite the bullet. I am planning on returning to Argentina next year so I better get started :p

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 6, 2017 @ 12:29 pm

      Thank you so much! Definitely put a little work in now and you’ll feel so relieved once you arrive in Argentina!

      Reply

  11. Lindsay
    June 6, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

    Fun! May I ask which school you recommend?? I’m on my way to Medellin to study Spanish myself!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 6, 2017 @ 3:56 pm

      Awesome! I took group classes at Toucan which was great especially for the social aspect since they organized group activities. I also took private lessons through a woman named Yadi (you can find her on the Black Sheep Hostel website). She was incredible, but may potentially still be out on maternity leave. Have a blast! I miss Medellin a lot!

      Reply

  12. Ana Sofia
    June 7, 2017 @ 3:46 pm

    I love reading this, especially because I’m Colombian. Idk if this makes it better or worse, but even to my family in Spanish, when talking about stickers everyone says “un sticker.” I love your tips though. So relatable. I was the same with French in high school. The longer I’ve gone without studying the more I realize how little I know!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 4:11 pm

      Ah! Un sticker! Who would have thought! Lol. Thank you for that little tidbit. I guess languages are the same as everything else…use it or lose it!

      Reply

  13. Jasmine
    June 7, 2017 @ 3:55 pm

    I totally agree that immersion is a necessary step when learning a language. I’ve always been super embarrassed by the fact that I’m 50% Hispanic and for still never picked it up (or made the time to) learn to speak Spanish fluently. Two years ago I spent two weeks in Nicaragua, and by the end I could have at least small conversations with locals and shop owners just based on the bit of vocabulary I already knew plus what I picked up. Still couldn’t hold an in-depth conversation but I definitely realized I knew a LITTLE bit more than I thought I did.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 4:12 pm

      That is the best feeling when you can actually communicate! It is definitely worth recognizing those small victories!

      Reply

  14. Tessa Torrente
    June 7, 2017 @ 4:17 pm

    learning a language abroad is something I have always wanted to do! I was in cuba for 10 days and my spanish improved soooo much because I was forced to speak it. Thanks for writing a great article and inspiring me!

    xo
    Tessa

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 4:27 pm

      Thanks for reading! I love being in the environment when I am forced to speak!

      Reply

  15. Lauren
    June 7, 2017 @ 5:06 pm

    Really great lessons here. I found learning Spanish very difficult – I even lived in the Dominican Republic for two months and still struggled hard core (though of course I did improve). I like your tips here; they are helpful to me!

    – L

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 5:29 pm

      Glad you found it helpful, Lauren! Thanks for reading

      Reply

  16. Ashleigh Garner
    June 7, 2017 @ 5:34 pm

    This so awesome! What a better way to learn a language then overseas in the home countries of the language. What an experience and a fantastic thing to do. I would love to do this one day. Thank you for the great post! 🙂

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 6:33 pm

      Thanks for reading, Ashleigh! I hope you give it a shot, definitely an experience (…worth writing about, haha)

      Reply

  17. Cherene Saradar
    June 7, 2017 @ 5:36 pm

    Haha this made me giggle! I can totally envision those scenarios. I live and work in Miami and have to speak Spanish quite a bit and it is often embarrassing. I totally want to do this immersion. Medellin looks amazing too!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 7, 2017 @ 6:34 pm

      Haha, I’m sure you know what I am talking about! Medellin is amazing and you aren’t too far away living in Miami…Just sayin’ 😉

      Reply

  18. AlexisRae
    June 8, 2017 @ 2:37 am

    Apps have seriously saved me when traveling. But you’re right, basic vocabulary words are really important. You gotta put at least a little effort in before you go!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 8, 2017 @ 8:31 am

      It makes all the difference!

      Reply

  19. Nina Tekwani
    June 8, 2017 @ 9:58 am

    You are a really fun writer! Thanks for sharing your experiences. THE WIne story had me laughing!!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 8, 2017 @ 10:10 am

      Haha, thanks so much Nina! Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply

  20. Sue Reddel
    June 8, 2017 @ 11:09 am

    What a fun and on point post. It’s so important to at least learn common phrases when visiting another country. It’s amazing more people don’t take the time and effort to do just that.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 8, 2017 @ 11:28 am

      Thanks, Sue! Common phrases not only will help the traveler a ton, but the locals also appreciate it! Win win

      Reply

  21. Danique
    June 8, 2017 @ 6:47 pm

    Really good article and tips! I don’t speak any word of Spanish but in about two years I will go to South America as well. I have an app that can teach me some basic words and I would love to learn the language in a country where they speak it. Can I give you one tip about hand signals? They are universal yes, but not the signals on their own. In some countries, pointing is really rude. So I would check on that as well before you go somewhere ?

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 9, 2017 @ 8:52 am

      I definitely know what you mean about the hand signals. It is important to be careful More often than not, mine are more like full out charades like the bathroom example, haha!

      Reply

  22. Sandy N Vyjay
    June 9, 2017 @ 12:52 am

    Knowing or learning a foreign language always helps. For travellers it is a key that opens the doors for many new experiences. In India we usually know a minimum of 2 Indian languages in addition to English. But we try to learn a few the languages of the countries we travel to whenever possible.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 9, 2017 @ 8:53 am

      Do you feel like already knowing three languages is helpful when you try to learn more?

      Reply

  23. Paula - Gone with the Wine
    June 9, 2017 @ 12:19 pm

    I will have to show this to my husband, he has been trying to learn my native language Finnish. Good tips! I personally think that the best way to learn, is to travel somewhere where you actually have to use this language. It will both motivate you and make you learn fast since that is all you will hear.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 9, 2017 @ 12:43 pm

      Thanks, Paula! Sounds like a trip to Finland is in order!

      Reply

  24. silvana mossotto
    June 10, 2017 @ 4:45 am

    Haha..:) Funny article! Yes, learning new language chan be very challenging. Good idea language exchange. Traveling in couchsurfing and workaway, meeting authentic people…. As mothertongue Italian, for me Spanish not difficult to understand.. At present I’m traveling often to Morocco. They speak good English, French, somebody German as well. The poorest countries are more motivated to learn other languages because tourists are their main source of income sometimes and businessmen investing in the country as well. I’m trying to learn some Darija and Amazigh at present. Mostly for respect and because I want to speak to old women there. But so difficult! Can’t stick more than 1-2 words in my mind..:(

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 10, 2017 @ 9:29 am

      Wow, Silvana! You are a language master. Your motivations to learn Darija and Amazigh (languages I admittedly have never heard of) are admirable!

      Reply

  25. Iza Abao
    June 10, 2017 @ 7:23 am

    I had taken Spanish classes when I was still studying at a university but I have forgotten what I learned. I wish that I know how to speak Spanish fluently too. It is definitely nice to learn a new language while interacting with the locals on a daily basis. I also did some of the suggestions that you mentioned when I went to Hong Kong. I just used hand signals and smile often. It is definitely a huge plus if you can speak more than one language. You’d feel smart and be more travel savvy. Best of luck in your goal to be fluent in Spanish. Maybe your blog will be written in Spanish someday. Adios, amiga!

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 10, 2017 @ 9:29 am

      Haha, muchas gracias, Iza!!

      Reply

  26. Bruce Schinkel
    June 10, 2017 @ 8:22 pm

    Such a fun post! Thanks for the “real” side of trying to learn a new language while travelling. I attempted to learn some basic German before touring Germany, Austria, and Switzerland … but was still left dumbfounded by local dialects 🙂

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 10, 2017 @ 11:30 pm

      The accents and dialects are so tricky! All the progress I made in Medellin was deleted when I visited Cali and they spoke three times faster!

      Reply

  27. neha
    June 11, 2017 @ 4:42 am

    You have provided some wonderful tips to learn a foreign language. When we visited Europe recently, particularly Italy, we had installed some apps and also noted down some common Italian phrases. Although, we used them now and then, we did learn some of the words. I guess following your tips, we can pick the language much faster

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 11, 2017 @ 10:43 am

      Thanks Neha! I am particularly shy when starting a brand new language, so it is great that you were able to use some of your new vocab right off the bat!

      Reply

  28. Anita
    June 11, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

    Colombia sounds like a great place to learn Spanish. I would love to visit this country some day. Using apps looks very useful idea. Thanks for the informative post and great tips.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 11, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

      No problem! Thank you for reading!

      Reply

  29. Kelly
    June 14, 2017 @ 10:49 am

    I so relate to this. I have a terrible
    Time learning languages and always look like a total moron when I try and speak. A lot of times people give me a blank stare like they don’t know what I’m saying. Always a good feeling. Lol. Great post.

    Reply

    • Cali
      June 14, 2017 @ 11:03 am

      Haha, thanks Kelly!

      Reply

  30. Suzie Kelsey
    June 18, 2017 @ 2:25 am

    Awesome article, I always enjoy reading about other peoples’ experiences learning languages, especially abroad! I’ve just written an article about learning Spanish in Spain.

    Reply

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